South Africa is in the midst of a fashion revolution, with designers celebrating the traditional and reflecting new thinking in exciting ways. These upcoming designers have caught our eye:
Otsile Sefolo is a Johannesburg based designer and graduate from London International School of Fashion (Lisof). The brand was founded in 2009 and it specialises in high-end and ready-to-wear apparel for both genders. The brand recently showcased at South African Fashion Week, with a collection that is inspired by the isiXhosa culture. The aesthetic borrowed from traditional isiXhosa cuts and reflects the narrative of the movie ‘Inxeba’, with muscular males donning feminine-styled clothing to redefine masculinity.
Bi-Parel is an urban gender fluid street wear label founded by Shaylene. Shaylene is a graduate from the University of Johannesburg fashion school with an eye for pop-culture and street style. Her recent collection was inspired by the heartbeat of a runner. This is reflected in her use of red strings along the side of the sportswear infused line. If you look closely at the garments, you’ll notice she also recreated the heart close to the chest on her pieces - with threads on the side to represent blood veins moving from the heart to the rest of the body.
Durban-based designer Sandile Mlambo is at the centre of the award-winning brand Kumkani Bespoke. Milan-trained Sandile has built a brand that promotes staying true to your African roots. Made from 100% natural fibres, the brand has a strong colour palette and decorative design influenced by what traditional leaders and healers wear. He will showcase this collection at Pitti Uomo men’s fashion week in Florence, Italy in June.
Beachcult is a swimwear brand by Joana Hedley, who draws inspiration from her travels around the world and from the beauty of South Africa. Known for signature prints and avant-garde silhouettes, Beachcult, a luxe swim and resort wear label, is designed for the confident women who are comfortable in their own skin, and looking for something striking.
“I design unique pieces that can be worn every day. My designs are comfortable, practical and flattering, but they have a design edge to them or a one-of-a kind detail that makes the person wearing them feel truly special and unique,” Heart & Heritage's Lesley Whitter says. Lesley grew up in Johannesburg and graduated from the University of Johannesburg Design School.